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Sustainability, Popular and Integrated Reporting in the Public Sector: A Fad and Fashion Perspective

Lucia Biondi () and Enrico Bracci ()
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Lucia Biondi: Dipartimento di Economia Aziendale, Università di Roma Tre, Via Silvio D’Amico, 77, 00145 Roma, Italy
Enrico Bracci: Dipartimento di Economia e Management, Università di Ferrara, Via Voltapaletto, 11, 44121 Ferrara, Italy

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 9, 1-16

Abstract: This paper provides a comparative analysis of different public accountability means used in the public sector - namely sustainability reporting, popular financial reporting and integrated reporting - in order to highlight their similarities and differences, and reflect on their development, with specific reference to the Italian context. In particular, we speculate about the practical and research implications of their emergence, through the lenses of accountability and managerial fad and fashion literature. The main novelty of the paper is that it is one of the first studies providing a comparative analysis of the three reporting tools debated both in practice and in research. We argue about their diffusion patterns, the commonalities and differences, which suggests different stages of evolution, different actors and forces at play. We provide some preliminary evidence on the risk that accountability innovations may end up just in a fad and fashion uptake, creating inefficiencies and not achieving the aims they are intended for. We also show how the available frameworks and standards have more in common than not, and that there is a risk of creating only new labels, without real innovation or improvement of public accountability.

Keywords: public accountability; sustainability accounting; managerial fashion; citizens; public sector (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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